Refugees receive dictionaries


Through a Rotary District grant, the Rotary Club of Stone Mountain gave more than 1,200 dictionaries to refugees who recently resettled in Clarkston. The club said it gave the dictionaries, which are designed for third-grade students who already speak English, in hopes the dictionaries will help the refugees develop their English language skills and prepare them for naturalization.

“We are always happy to partner with our community schools on this project, but this year we had the added pleasure of helping our refugee neighbors,” said Gillian Leggett, president of the Rotary Club of Stone Mountain. “Now many of these new families can learn English together and feel more comfortable in their new home.”

Club officials said it has for years participated in the national “Dictionary Project,” a program which distributes dictionaries to third-grade students across the nation, in an effort to help them become good writers, active readers, creative thinkers and resourceful learners. Sponsors, including civic groups such as Rotary clubs, purchase the dictionaries and give them to students to use at school and at home. According to the club, educators see the third grade level as the dividing line between “learning to read and reading to learn,” and sponsors are encouraged to give dictionaries each year to children in the third grade.

This year, the Rotary Club Stone Mountain Club extended its program to refugees living in Clarkston and partnered with the city to distribute the dictionaries.

“We are so grateful to the Stone Mountain Rotarians for their support of our refugee community,” said Terry Sanders, special project coordinator for the city of Clarkston. “Our newest residents arrive here with little to no English language skills and are trying to learn a difficult language as adults.

“Many are also studying to become U.S. citizens,” Sanders added. “These dictionaries will be a vital tool in learning English and a lot about the U.S. that will help them more quickly settle into their communities.”

The dictionary that was distributed, A Student’s Dictionary, is published by The Dictionary Project and has 540 pages with definitions, pronunciations and parts of speech for 35,000 words. The club said the dictionaries also have 150 pages of supplemental information, including the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, biographies of U.S. presidents, world maps, information on all 50 states, information on other countries of the world, weights and measurements, the Periodic Table and information on the solar system and planets.

The club purchased 2,400 dictionaries with the help of a grant from Rotary District 6900, the club said. Half the dictionaries were distributed to third-graders in 10 DeKalb County Schools, and half went into the Clarkston refugee community.

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